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I have been lucky enough to have lived in Thame now for 15 years so I thought I would share some information about this lovely market town.
Thame (pronounced Tame) is located in Oxfordshire, near the Chiltern Hills and about 10 minutes drive from the M40 (junction 7 or 8). The town came into being in its current location in the 12th Century and the road from Oxford to Aylesbury was diverted to go through the town. Now there is a ring round so the high street is bustling with activity rather than being full of heavy traffic. The majority of the town centre is made up of ancient buildings although many have been converted for modern usage.
Thame has always been a Market Town with the popular market held every Tuesday in the Upper High Street, there is a farmers market once a month and there is a cattle market held twice a week as well. Parking is easy as there are several carparks but do check how long you can stay as they all vary.
If you want to while away the time in a pleasing environment then have a seat in the memorial gardens and enjoy the peaceful setting but still feel involved in what is going on.
Shopping in Thame is a pleasant experience due to the many individual nature of many of the shops. There are popular stores like Boots, Cargo, Martins and Clarks but these are mixed with more unusual offerings:
Whats Cooking--a delightful store stocking local produce and unusual cheeses and chutneys, they also offer freshly prepared meals to cook at home and delicious picnic hampers which need to be pre-ordered.
Newitts Butchers-- an award winning family owned butchers which have a good range of locally sourced products and pies and sausages in a varity of flavours. The prices aren't cheap but the quality is outstanding.
Sweet Surrender-- a sweet shop that sells everything in confectionary you can imagine. There are handmade chocolate, unusual imported sweets and all the old favourites and of course there are ice-creams when you need them!
Sapphire Moon-- a gift shop specialising in fairtrade and ethically sourced products, unusual gifts, ornaments and incense.
There are also several independent clothes shops catering to most budgets and covering most ages (although teens are hard to satisfy--but aren't they always?). There is a cake decorating shop, an AGA shop , several jewellers, a treasure trove of a stationers and a well stocked bookshop. There is a Co-op and a waitrose and several charity shops includind a brilliant Oxfam Bookshop.
Like most small towns Thame has been struggling with the credit crunch but the local council have been pushing the "Try Thame First" message. I have found that I can actually meet most of my shopping needs locally, there is unfortunately now nowhere to buy CDs or DVDs but otherwise I have usually been able to find what I need. The area around Thame is quite affluent and there are certainly some store who are catering for the wealthier customers but on the whole prices are reasonably competitive.
When you have finished browsing in the shops there are several options for refreshments. Thame has more than its fair share of pubs and most offer great food. If you want an unusual experience head to the 15th Century Birdcage Inn in the middle of town and enter the gents toilet (yes-ladies are allowed through the first door!!) and find yourself on a clear florr looking down into an ancient well. An experience to try before you drink too much!
There are several places for coffee and a snack. The Well is a new venture that is being run by members of the local chuch and profits are being donated to charity--worth a visit for their lovely fairtrade coffee.
A walk around the town gives you a great feel for the history, I have been given some postcards with drawings dating back over 200 years and it is still very easy to recognise most of the buildings in the town. Thame also has its own museum but its opening times vary. The photo used on Dooyoo is of St Marys Chuch which is off the bottom end of the High Street, it was built in the 13th Century and is open most days for visitors to look around.
The town is very compact and there is a nature Reserve just past the newly redeveloped recreation area. This is a lovely place for a walk and a great place to see Red Kites as they are always around and a magnificent sight if you have never had chance to watch them.
There is a leisure centre just out of the town centre which contains sports courts, a gym and a swimming pool.
The secondary school in Thame- Lord Williams's- is celebrating its 450th anniversary this year and there are several buildings in the town that date back to that time. One of which is The Thatch which was the restaurant that the competitors on "The Restaurant" won, although originally it was a row of cottages. If you want to eat here (and I recommend you should!) it is wise to book a table especially for the weekends.
If you choose to stay in Thame for a few days then it is worth noting that Oxford is only about 12 miles away and also there are lots of walks in the Chilterns. Thame is also on a Sustrans cycleway and has a great traffic-free path most of the way to Princes Risborough which is a great introduction to family cycling as it is safe and reasonably flat!
Thame Show used to happen in September and was the biggest one-day agricultural show in England, it will now be held on a summer weekend. Unless you plan to go to the show avoid Thame on this day as the town is full of the fair and a lot of local businesses shut. The first time I ever visited Thame it was show day and I wondered what on earth was going on as the traffic was awful. Luckily I came back and even though I am a Brummy by birth I can't see me ever wanting to leave such a pretty, friendly place.
If you want anymore information then try:
www.thame.net or www.21stcenturythame.org.uk
If you fall in love with the place, like I did, then there are plenty of estate agents too!